Lowther Family Archive 2017-06-01T10:28:30+00:00

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Lowther Family Archive


The Lonsdale archive is one of the largest and most important family archives in the UK. The Lowther family (the Earls of Lonsdale) had such huge landholdings, wealth, interests and influence that their archive shows local and national life from the 12th century onwards and evidence for the history of much of north west England.

The family acquired extensive estates and titles, often working closely with the royal family. The first Sir Hugh de Lowther (c.1250-1317) was Attorney General to Edward I who granted to Sir Hugh the licence to ‘impark’ land at Lowther. The deed and seal are in the archive.

The archive includes a very fine collection of architectural drawings for the family houses and gardens from the 17th century onwards, including several sets of plans by Capability Brown and Robert Adam. Most were never executed, indeed Robert Adam’s plans for a new Palladian-influenced Lowther Castle were rejected in favour of the medieval design by Robert Smirke which stands on the site today.

The ‘Lonsdale Pals’ archive documents the creation and administrative records of the First World War Lonsdale Battalion, many of whom who were killed in the first 15 minutes of the battle of the Somme. They came from Estate families who still live and work at Lowther.

The 7th Earl of Lonsdale deposited approximately 2300 boxes of documents plus numerous maps and volumes at Cumbria Record Office Carlisle between 1963 and 2006.

The majority of the archives are held at the Record Office, and may be viewed with permission from the Lowther Estate. Further information and catalogues can be found on the website.

Illustrations (top to bottom): a royal pardon for Sir Hugh de Lowther, 1314; a medieval bestseller, a book on the Trojan Wars, contains a strange cipher (middle right); the ‘Lonsdale Pals’.



To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of hostilities in First World War please see the new timeline/chronology from September 1914 to May 1915 of the formation of the Lonsdale Battalion of the Border Regiment as compiled by David Bowcock (former Assistant County Archivist, Carlisle).

D_LONS_L28_48cPlease click on the following links to access the full PDF documents with further information about the Lonsdale Battalion:

Lonsdale Battalion Timeline

Lonsdale Battalion History of Subjects

The Lonsdale Battalion Database


Timeline/Chronology September 1914-May 1915.  Compiled by David Bowcock (former Assistant County Archivist, Carlisle). Attestations indexed by Sophie Connelly, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle. With the kind permissions of Jim Lowther and Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle.


4 Aug 1914

War is declared on Germany.

27 Aug 1914

Battle of Mons in Belgium where the British Expeditionary Force is routed and the need for volunteers is realised

Recruiting Poster “”You’re proud of your pals in the Army of course!  But what will your pals think of YOU?  THINK IT OVER!

Poster ‘Identification of Aircraft’ [113]

3 Sep 1914

33,000 volunteers recruited in 1 day in London, men urged to “join up with your pals”

4 Sep 1914D_LONS_L28_48b

Col. Percy Wilfred Machell of the Cumberland & Westmorland Territorial Forces’ Association [2]

11 Sep 1914

Letter from D. Morphy & Co, Kendal:  “We have secured sufficient Army Grey Flannel to make 1000 men’s shirts, & can make & deliver these next week …” [70]

12 Sep 1914

Herbert Harrison and Joseph Wood recruited at The Drill Hall, Penrith.

15 Sep 1914

Copy telegram of Lord Lonsdale: “… meeting ofD_LONS_L28_48a Cumberland & Westmorland Territorial Force Association today … decided create special Lonsdale Battalion … men who had already enlisted in groups for this Unit have been suddenly called Depot Carlisle and merged with others.  This has proved prejudicial to recruiting.  Essential that Men now enlisted for this Lonsdale Battalion being of higher class than ordinary recruits should remain together until transferred. … Recruiting will commence on receipt of reply.” [2] cont:

Click the following link to access the whole document:  Lonsdale Battalion Timeline